IRL: Indy 500: Open Test quotes 2006-04-05

INDYCAR SERIES OPEN TEST DRIVER QUOTES INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY Wednesday, April 5, 2006 SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I don't think we were going out for straight-out speed. The car just felt ...

INDYCAR SERIES OPEN TEST DRIVER QUOTES
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I don't think we were going out for straight-out speed. The car just felt comfortable, so we trimmed it out for speed. I think with everybody, you get a little lucky with tows and things like that, but we trimmed out toward the end and did a similar speed by ourselves. For me, the car felt good, so we just went ahead and did it. It's hard to know if this is where we want to be. The weather conditions today are pretty ideal for good speed; it's hard to tell what everyone is focusing on. We were trying to focus on grip, and we had good grip. You just try to get the big test items out of the way, and we didn't have too many, to be honest. The car was good from the get-go. We made improvements and moved on." (On Dan Wheldon joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It's been great. There is certainly some momentum of him coming off such a strong year and joining our team for a lot of the guys on the team. Cheers people up when a guy like that comes over. Both of us have had a pretty good start, second, third in points, hopefully we can improve on that."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's always great to be back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's not the first time since I have won the '500' that I have been back. I came back here last October with Andretti Green Racing for some tire testing, but it's a place that I love. The grandstands are empty now, but the place has an amazing aura -- atmosphere. There are a lot of things you can say about this place, for me personally, as well. It's great to be back in a Dallara; I hope the Panoz people don't get mad at me. I just feel at home in one, and obviously Andy Brown is very familiar with that (chassis), and we seem to run quick right off the bat. The thing I like about Indianapolis is, I think that everybody thinks that you win Indianapolis 500, and all you think about is Sunday. But that is so wrong because the Indianapolis 500 is really starting today. Everybody is preparing. People may say we are not going for times today. Yeah, right. I guarantee Penske and Ganassi are going at one another very, very hard. I have a lot of memories from leading into qualifying. I remember qualifying very well, I absolutely sucked, and that kind of ticked me off a little bit. That is what is great about the track, the good memories, bad memories, all of them enjoyable." (On changing teams): "When you are part of an organization for a long time, it's a big advantage. For me and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team, we are still getting to know one another, and it's tough with very limited testing. You have to learn in race conditions. We are fortunate today to have a day, but there's just not much time. And so to be a on a team for a long time, they know your little quirks, nuances, how much steering input you like, how much you don't like, what makes you tick, what doesn't. And that is what we are working on here at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. I will say that the Target team is very, very good. I am happy that I made the move, not in a derogatory way to Andretti Green Racing. I fel t it was time for a change. I think that I have made a positive step forward."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It felt good to have a good car. As far as getting back to Indy, I obviously have good memories, but more than anything, for me, it felt good to have a good car because that is what will give me a good race again. The car was consistent, you know, it felt good, and I think we can come into the month of May with a car that we know." (Weather conditions will be different in May, so is a test now really beneficial?): "No, I wouldn't say that we all had a lot of things to try. Miles always serve the purpose of miles and just seat time. Was it completely necessary? No, but I got to drive around Indy." (After all the hype of last year, how beneficial is this private test, when there's less attention?): "It's nice. I just don't have to hide as much."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It feels good. I have nothing but good memories from here. It's a little chilly, but this afternoon is good. I am really looking forward to the month. I mean Indy is Indy, it feels like the more you do, the more you want because you know more about the history, and every day that goes by you know more about the Speedway, and you want it more and more. The first time you don't know at all, so you don't have a lot of expectations, but I will tell you after your fourth '500,' it builds up on you. It's the top of anybody's list to win. If you do it here, you are on top of the world."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's an ideal day. Everyone's going fast, but for what reason? Why get the car too on edge today? You got a lot of time to do that. No reason to get totally trimmed out on a test day. We let the track warm up a bit, just shook it down a little bit before lunch, (and) after lunch we came out and started working a few things. Setups don't cross over by any means. For us it's just a situation of getting more data about the Dallara and learning more about the car."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, asked how it feels to be back at Indy): "It feels real good. The car handles well. We're pretty much back with the same setup we ran last year so far because it was quick for us. We're excited about our chances here this year. We've got a great team as far as pit stops and car setups; we just need a little luck here. It's always great to be back here. It's not the month of May yet, but we're pretty excited about it." (Another month before May, does this testing help that much?): "Well, there's only so many things that we're going to be able to do today because the track's really green from nobody running on it for eight months, so we just have to be careful with what we're doing today (and) we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to put both cars on the trailer with all fours wheels on them. We're exciting about the possibilities for the race and we'll keep trying to get better, try some new things and see how we are in and out of traffic." (How does the Honda power feel for you?): "It feels good, but it's been a year, you can't really back-to-back (compare) it. We're just excited everybody has the same thing."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "You guys told me it would be hot, and it's not hot. It's chilly, man. It's great, it's good that we have this opportunity to try today before we come over here and spend two weeks. Obviously, you want to be on top of the charts, but right now we've got to be smart, take advantage of the day, put it in your pocket and learn." (How much can you really learn out there today?): "Oh, a lot. Every time you're out there at this place you're always learning. The good news is the weather seems to be awesome; not much strong wind, and the temperature is good for downforce. It's tricky because you think you have a good car and then when you come back with 80 degrees you're like, 'Wow, it's missing something.' Right now it's good to get active, get a rhythm and go for it." (Does the parity with Honda power add confidence?): "Yeah, it's an interesting feeling. Last time we're here we were off in power, and now you can feel it."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "It's good. The weather's nice, actually, to be able to get this test in. It's a refresher for everybody to get out here and get this deal started." (Your time off last May certainly hasn't affected you today): "I don't want to be taking any more vacations like that. I need to stay on the stick here, and we should have a solid month. We're all pretty fired up, and I think the 15 car should run good with Argent, Honda and Panoz. I had two tests over the offseason, did some testing for Firestone, so I've been able to get back here and get around here, so it's good."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, asked how it feels to be not only back at Indy, but back in the car after Homestead-Miami accident): "It's always good to come test at the Speedway, first time of the year it's always exciting for everybody. But for me, I'm really excited just to be back in the car and get back to work. Just picking up where we left off, getting refocused on working in the car instead of talking about all the events that happened and just getting back on track again." (About Honda engine): "It's awesome. In the past, our destiny wasn't in our own hands, but this year we kind of hold our own destiny. That's why we're trying to get started off right at this test, to develop a good baseline car to come back in the month of May. We're not going to try to go too far to fast today; just trying to get settled in and get a good package to start the month of May."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "Really enjoying getting used to working with the guys, everything has gone well so far. It's nice to finally get into the car and think only about that, think only about driving. I kind of blew the last entry into the pit box, but other than that it's gone pretty smooth." (Rahal Letterman Racing always has a great setup here): "They've got a great car, I noticed that right away. We were flat pretty quickly; they've got some extra downforce in my car, but it's a good car right off the bat. I'm sure we'll have the same thing at Japan. They've always been really competitive at Japan and Indy." (You had only a couple hours to get ready for this race last time you were here. Now you have two months. How does that change your mindset?): "I certainly like this. There's less pressure, and I can take my time. But there's not a lot of time before Japan. I think this is the only time I'm in the car before we go to do a race weekend, so it's still happening pretty quickly. But I'm definitely looking forward to having a full month this time and having a great run at the '500.'"

BRYAN HERTA (No. 1 Jim Beam/Vonage Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's great to be back. This is kind of a nice little teaser, to run a few laps. It turned out to be a nice day; I thought it was going to be cold and windy, but it's kind of chilly. It give us a chance to run around a little bit, feel our cars and get a little preview of what we're going to have when we come back for the month of May. This is the race. You ask any driver which race they want to win, and I doubt you'll hear anyone say anything other than the Indianapolis 500." (The Andretti legacy and their reasons for wanting to win here, is well known, but what motivates you to win the '500' and what would it mean to win it?): "I don't know. That's one of those questions you can answer now but -- I've talked to Buddy Rice and some guys that have won -- and I don't think the real significance of winning it hits you until after you've done it. Even then, not until six months or a year later. It's that kind of a thing. I think it would take time to get your head around the fact that, of all those guys on the Borg-Warner Trophy, you're one of them. It's a pretty special thing." (Was this a goal since you were a kid?): "As a kid we used to listen to it on the radio, and I guess I'm dating myself with that. My dad used to listen to the Indy 500 on the radio, we'd be out in the yard playing and I remember guys like Sneva, Johncock and Rutherford, Mario and A.J. -- listening to all those names. In a way it seemed larger than life and it seemed so far away. There's so much access now I think some of the mystique for the drivers goes away, (but) nothing can change the mystique of this place."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "When I showed up here in 2002, I really wasn't that overwhelmed by the race at all, or enamored. It was just another race to me. I have a strong sense of sports history, but apart of Jimmy Clark racing here, and Mario and some other guys, I really wasn't that enthused about showing up. And then the more I've done it -- 2003 I missed it when I hurt my back on my bike -- 2004 I showed up, we qualified on the front row and I was getting into it, and then last year it just became sort of an all-consuming passion to win this bloody race. It's continued into this year. We're carrying that focus, and the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car is going to become the Klein Tools/Canadian Club car and we hope we're going to put that thing in Victory Circle." (What brought about the change in you from 2004 to 2005?): "I think qualifying on the front row, that helped me because I had enthusiasm for that, and then just being up front and having a chance to win it. Seeing what it meant to everybody, just getting caught up in the whole -- what's the word -- the aura of the history of the whole sport. This is my fourth year, and it's just so bloody difficult to win the thing. I've seen what can go wrong here. We led last year -- it's just such a difficult thing to win." (Today, how's it going? Feel good to be back?): "Yeah, it feels good to be back on the track. It's a little bit cool, but we're trying some very major things on the car and we're hopeful we'll get results to transfer to the top-five cars for the month of May. We're not tweaking the car by any means; we're here for some fairly big changes and big answers."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone, asked if it's tough to be a spectator today?): "I'd be in a car everyday if they'd let me, but no, I think it's better for the team for dad (Michael Andretti) and I to test when the conditions will be more similar to when we're going to be racing and qualifying. It's pretty chilly today, but obviously they're still able to learn. The team wouldn't benefit if dad and I were running today because they're learning from it. Patience is a virtue." (What have you learned just standing on the pit wall today?): "Just how they get up to speed. If I can get up to speed just half as quickly as they did, I'd be in good shape. And just purely listening to their feedback, how the car is and the characteristics of the track. Just being around it, listening on the radio. I think it's big for me."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, asked if he was planning to test): "Yeah, we were. I landed on Monday night and just as I landed I got the word that the car wasn't going to be ready and the test would be scratched." (Do you feel like this puts you at a disadvantage, despite your experience?): "You always want to run here. We're in a position that we've got to maximize our resources and the guys are working hard at it, but yeah, I'd like to have been here to see what the equipment can do. What's great about this is it gives you time to build for Opening Day. It would be nice to see where we stand, but that will have to wait until practice." (It's hard to believe your 1996 win was 10 years ago): "It doesn't feel like that long ago, but at the same time, a lot has changed since then. But it's still the same racetrack and certainly, the way we ran last year adds confidence. But we still have got to get me and the race car working well here."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's good to be back. It's definitely nice to drive around, to get back on the superspeedways and get the preparation for the month of May. Although it's going to be different weather when we get back, it's still good to do to get your measurements. At least you can learn a couple things, for sure." (The Andrettis' desire to win this race is well known and understood. What drives you to win here?): "You grow up thinking about it, watching Indy, so it's been since I was a little kid. So it would mean a lot to me, and you'd be part of the history of motor racing. We race to win every race, but in particular when you have such a race like Indy. The Indy cars are named by Indianapolis, so it makes it even more important."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It went great. First of all, the car was very good. We just wanted to learn a lot. We didn't want to come here and push too hard. We achieved what we needed to achieve; we can go to Motegi now. I'm looking forward to that. The first day at the Speedway was a great day." (This team is on more equal footing from an engine standpoint now, does that instill confidence in you?): "For sure it's higher, but we're still dealing here with Penske's, Ganassi's and Andretti's, which are first-class outfits. This outfit here is getting there, and they're really doing a great job. We want some consistent finishes, and I think we'll be happy with that."

MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We had a great day. My guys did a great job putting the car out. You know, we do these one-off's each year, the Indianapolis 500. This is definitely the best car I've had, and the best motor. It's great to be in a Honda, finally. We ran some great laps out there, and it's a good opportunity to get out there and shake it all out and get ready for the month of May." (Will you run in the Freedom 100 also?): "Right now, we're just taking it day by day; we're concentrating on IndyCar right now."

***

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing